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Rastafarians


A weeklong gathering of Rastafarians at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica discussed ways to get European countries to pay reparations for slavery. A decade ago, a coalition of Rastafarian groups estimated that European nations involved in the slave trade, especially Britain, ought to pay $110 billion to resettle Rastafarians in Africa. CARICOM, an organization of more than a dozen Caribbean countries, has recently begun an effort to gain compensation for what they call the lingering legacy of the Atlantic slave trade in the region. (South Florida Times, 8/22/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Long held in disdain on the island, Rastafarianism is growing in Jamaica, more than 20% in the past decade, to 29,000 followers (in a country of 2.7 million). The real number is 8% to 10% of the population, according to Julani Niaah, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies. “The contemporary appeal,” he said, “is particularly fascinating to young men, especially in the absence of alternative sources for their development.” Some Rastafarians live a highly regimented transforming way of life in the isolated Bobo Ashanti commune, alienated from modern existence until the fulfillment of the prophecy that they will return to Africa. They believe that their founder was the black incarnation of Christ. Other Rastas follow a more secular lifestyle characterized by fervor for social justice, reggae music, and the ritual use of marijuana. Discrimination against Rastas is said to be fading, and the first dreadlocked member of Jamaica’s Parliament was elected last year. Meanwhile, Rastafarianism is growing in the United States as a result of jailhouse conversions. (AP, 11/28/12) [IT 4.1 2013

A decade ago, San Francisco police asked cult expert Margaret Singer to analyze the group, for despite several encounters with The Family, they found themselves powerless to act. Singer learned that Wright espoused "a mishmash of Rastafarianism, karma, and white guilt. The white women who lived with him "had to work off the white mistreatment of black people. It was their responsibility to work off their karma."[csr 1.1 2002]